The next time you’re asked what your “type” is, it’s quite possible what your interlocutor is really after is which Enneagram Type you are. Although the history of the Enneagram of Personality model is a bit muddled, with some claiming its origins date all the way back to 4th century Greece, the test as we currently know it came together in the 1950s under the direction of a Bolivian psychologist — and it’s only gaining popularity today. That psychologist identified nine different Enneagram Types, and, given that you’ve landed on a page all about Type 2, “The Helper,” we’re guessing this specific type is one you’re curious to learn more about.
What is the Enneagram Type 2 personality?
Empathetic, sincere, and giving, Type 2 within the Enneagram is known as “The Helper” for a reason. They want what is best for others, are seen as warm-hearted and friendly individuals, and are capable of providing an unconditional kind of love. On the dark side, this type is often susceptible to prioritizing others to the point of being self-sacrificing, as they fail to discern their own needs and boundaries. They can also have a tendency to be a bit possessive; given the amount of energy they pour into helping others, it’s perhaps expected they would struggle with the feeling they aren’t as equally prioritized. At the end of the day, their most driving impulse is to be loved. When moving in the direction of stress, this type can suddenly become aggressive and dominating; when moving toward a “Direction of Integration” (or growth), however, Twos become more emotionally aware and are able to extend their sense of nurturing inward, instead of simply outward.
Characteristics of a Type 2
Type 2s are big-hearted, compassionate, nurturing, altruistic and demonstrative. They are feelings-based people who can’t imagine a world in which they aren’t devoting their energy to helping others. This community-centric type is most concerned with what they perceive to be the hallmarks of a well-lived life: love, family, friendship, and emotional closeness with others. Because of their positive, constructive, we-can-fix-this presence, people tend to flock to Twos like flies to honey.
A less healthy Two (read: one who is emotionally underdeveloped or unaware) may place more importance on being seen as someone who helps others and less on the actual care they are providing. Because they pride themselves first and foremost on how giving they are, an unhealthy Two often has a tendency to self-delude and is unable to acknowledge the emotional needs and boundaries they themselves have. This can lead to feelings of resentment, unfulfillment, and overextension of emotional resources.
The driving desire of a Two is, at the end of the day, to be loved. This is often what is stoking their fire to give; healthy Twos truly want to help others, but all Twos want to feel needed.
A secret fear of being found to be worthless is common amongst Twos. Because of this, many of their acts of giving may have a double-motive of making themselves indispensable, gaining approval, and thereby gaining security in the belief they are cared about and, accordingly, matter.
Caring, demonstrative, and feelings-forward, a Two’s “bleeding heart” is often evident in the way they speak. You will often hear them giving advice to others or talking about love, in any of its forms.
High emotional habit
Nurturing of others and of self. A Two who is operating at their healthiest, most complete potential will have gained mastery over setting boundaries and ensuring that they are one of their recipients of their own unconditional love. This eliminates the resentment, fear of worthlessness, and self-inflation found in less-developed Twos.
Lower emotional habit
Self-deception. Incapable of acknowledging the fear of being found worthless, a less-developed Two will place a delusional degree of pride on the idea that they always put others first, which leads to inauthenticity and secret feelings of resentment they try to repress.
Addictions and challenges
Twos can be addicted to approval, being acknowledged for their good deeds, and may also abuse food (especially sweets) from a place of feeling love-starved. Their biggest challenge is facing their fear of worthlessness to gain emotional awareness, thus enabling them to develop healthy relationships with proper boundaries and a lack of dependency.
Best careers for Type 2 personalities
It comes as little surprise that Type Twos naturally excel at working with others, especially in service-oriented capacities. They are here to make an impact and to share their effusive love with others. Below are some career paths this personality type would be particularly fitting in:
Many Type Twos will feel drawn toward careers in education, where they can forge meaningful, face-to-face connections with the people they are helping and guiding every day. The formative type of impact you’re able to make on people’s lives, whether your students are children or adults, in this field is perhaps unparalleled.
Empathetic above all, Type Twos make ideal candidates for a career in psychotherapy, where their sincere, compassionate natures and willingness to dive into the emotional archeology of others will be well placed. The help you’re able to offer as a professional in this field can truly be transformative and even life-saving.
You probably associate the term “doula” as being synonymous with a midwife, if you’re familiar with the profession (long-attempted to be stamped out by male-dominated medicine) at all. This type of doula provides physical, emotional and informational support to women before, during and after childbirth, but there are other kinds of doula, as well, including ones who provide support during miscarriages and grieving processes. The endlessly caring nature of Type Twos make them ideal fits for any of these paths.
4. Non-profit founder
Type Twos are known for having a couple (or 20) social causes they feel deeply about, as well as an urge to solve the world’s problems. By founding an organization dedicated to addressing such an issue, Type Twos can find fulfillment in feeling as connected to a cause that helps others as they possibly can be, day in and day out.
5. Social worker
A career in social work makes perfect sense for a heart-on-their-sleeve Type 2, allowing them to help people in a way others cannot. Whether you’re working within the spheres of substance abuse, child and family needs, or trauma, careers within this field aren’t the easiest, but they can be incredibly rewarding. Ultimately, you’ll know you’re serving as a source of strength to some of the people who need it most.
Type Twos aren’t necessarily the Enneagram Type that will feel most innately drawn to a career in politics. But they’re perhaps the type of politician the world needs most. Motivated by a genuine desire to help others and achieve the greatest good, politics is an area where Type Twos can achieve true, comprehensive change while helping those in need. There may be sacrifices involved, and some Type Twos will miss the ability to do more hands-on work with the people you’re helping. But the impact you can make in this field can’t be argued with.
7. Life coach
The “we can do this — I’ll help you!” attitude of Type Twos, as well as their propensity for giving advice, means they would likely excel working within a coach capacity. With an ability to step into others’ shoes and intuit their truest needs and drives, empathy makes for a wonderful tool within this career field, and Type Twos have that in spades. They’ll also enjoy feeling depended upon by clients, as well as finding joy in celebrating their successes.
Careers to avoid
Areas for personal and professional growth
Within both their personal and professional lives, the area of growth Type Twos most need to focus on is improving their sense of self-worth. Being honest with yourself, instead of giving into rose-colored, self-deluding impulses, is a crucial place to start. Once Type Twos are honest with themselves and are able to address latent fears of worthlessness, they’ll be able to develop healthy boundaries and ensure that their acts of giving and care are coming from an authentic place, without an expectation of reciprocation or recognition. Developing an aptitude for nurturing oneself, and not just others, will naturally follow, allowing Type Twos to offer the best and brightest of their uniquely giving spirits and emotional aptitudes without doing so at the expense of their own sense of well-being.
About the Career Expert:
Liv McConnell is a data-driven content creator and advocate for women focused on driving conversations around workplace equity and the right we should all have to careers that see and support our humanity. Additionally, she writes on topics in the reproductive justice space and is training to become a doula.